Opera and Cinema: The Politics of an Encounter, International Conference


International Conference
Lisbon, 9-10 November 2012

Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Teatro Nacional de São Carlos

The main goal of this conference is to foster discussion on the century-old relationship between opera and film as a problem rather than as anodyne fact: in other words, to conceive of their intersection as an all too undetermined encounter that is anything but settled. Our initial hypothesis is that reflecting upon the aesthetic and political stakes of such an encounter, in its various forms (filmic, dramaturgical, discursive), may shed light on the contemporary coexistence of both art forms with respect to their roles, uses, modes of experience, and critical appropriation.

“Rising nobly over medieval torture chambers”, as the Paris Opera House is described at the beginning of the film The Phantom of the Opera (1925), opera has long been associated with elites, power, and domination, whereas film, from its origin as “attraction at the fair”, has been characterized as a popular art for the masses. However obvious this contrast might seem at first, a political questioning of the relationship between opera and film must go beyond this theoretical framework and dismiss the simplistic alternative between “ennobling film” and “popularizing opera”. Even though opera and film are both hybrid media and are often viewed in a historical continuum, it is critical to counter tendencies toward the “naturalization” of the relationship between these two art forms.

The ambiguous encounters of opera and film suggest a broad range of possible thematic points of departure: from the “silence” of DeMille’s Carmen to the “operaticness” of The Godfather or a certain “death of opera” in Fellini’s E la nave va; from the film interlude in Alban Berg’s Lulu to the contemporary invasion of screens in opera staging. Approaches drawing on theoretical tools from musicology, opera studies, film studies, cultural studies, philosophy, and sociology are all welcome.

We encourage the submission of abstracts (ca. 300 words), accompanied by a short biographical note (as separate documents), to operaandcinema@gmail.com, by 30 June 2012. Please note that in order to allow time for discussion, papers must not exceed 20 minutes in length. The official language of the conference will be English.

Keynote speakers:
Marcia Citron (Rice University)
Richard Leppert (University of Minnesota)

CESEM (Centro de Estudos de Sociologia e Estética Musical [Centre for Studies in Aesthetics and Sociology of Music])
INET-MD (Instituto de Etnomusicologia – Centro de Estudos em Música e Dança [Institute of Ethnomusicology – Centre of Studies in Music and Dance])
Research program “Listening to the moving images” (INET-MD), funded by the FCT.

Organizing committee:
João Pedro Cachopo (CESEM / Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Manuel Deniz Silva (INET-MD / Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Pedro Boléo Rodrigues (INET-MD / Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Program committee:
Isolde Schmid-Reiter (Institut für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaft / Universität Wien)
Jean-Paul Olive (Université Paris 8 )
João Pedro Cachopo (CESEM / Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Manuel Deniz Silva (INET-MD / Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Mário Vieira de Carvalho (CESEM / Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Max Paddison (Centre for the Contemporary Performing Arts / Durham University)
Paulo Ferreira de Castro (CESEM / Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

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